Characterisation of receptors can involve either assessment of their ability to bind ligands or measure receptor activation as a result of agonist or inverse agonist interactions. This review focuses on G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), examining techniques that can be applied to both receptors in membranes and after solubilisation. Radioligand binding remains a widely used technique, although there is increasing use of fluorescent ligands. These can be used in a variety of experimental designs, either directly monitoring ligand itself with techniques such as fluorescence polarisation or indirectly via resonance energy transfer (fluorescence/Forster resonance energy transfer, FRET and bioluminescence resonance energy transfer, BRET). Label free techniques such as isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC) and surface plasmon resonance (SPR) are also increasingly being used. For GPCRs, the main measure of receptor activation is to investigate the association of the G protein with the receptor. The chief assay measures the receptor-stimulated binding of GTP or a suitable analogue to the receptor. The direct association of the G protein with the receptor has been investigated via resonance energy techniques. These have also been used to measure ligand-induced conformational changes within the receptor; a variety of experimental techniques are available to incorporate suitable donors and acceptors within the receptor.
Bibliographical note© 2018, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International
Funding: BBSRC [grant number BB/M007529/1].